Shifting Gears

Too bad that feet up on the couch, channel surfing, doesn’t really count as rest. After all, it’s my reward for having survived all the responsibilities of my day. The truth is that by then I am drained. And I have accepted that this routine will help me replenish for the next day.

If it worked, I would be completely energized. Instead, I rarely feel that I have enough time, energy or brainpower. I realize that I need to shift my perspective. Who would have expected that real rest would take such effort!

So, I began reflecting on how I got here in the first place.

My work ethic certainly doesn’t help. Despite wanting to do "work” differently (a topic for a different article), I continue not only to drive myself to the brink, but I see that I am contributing to taking my colleagues with me. Envision Thelma and Louise driving off the cliff together!

To complicate the matter, every member of our team shares this ethic. We also share a cause. So, as each of us works to meet our individual standards of quality, we unknowingly push the others to rise even higher to keep up. The bar continues to be raised because our work is meaningful, we have integrity, we respect each other, and we know that there’s always more that can be accomplished. Herein lies the problem.

In order to live up to our ideal, we are critically aware of how much we still need to do. What we have forgotten is to care for ourselves while we’re on a path to realizing our vision. In the end, it’s going to completely backfire on us. We know it. We see it starting. And just like we push each other to reach higher, we also need to help each other learn to relax.

Recently I forced myself – with strong reinforcement from a colleague – to take a lunch of luxury. This was quite extreme since we usually eat at our desks. My luxury: a pedicure. It not only took me out of my routine, but also reminded me how it felt to relax. It was about more than feet. I felt mischievous, like I was skipping a class at school. It was great! And, the work still got done.

This is a silly example. But it highlights a real issue that I see people facing. The truth is that it’s just easier to stick with routine. Even if it doesn’t help.

So my challenge is to identify simple ways that I can regularly create moments for replenishment. I know I will need help. And I will keep this in mind as I try to help the people in my life do the same.

It’s impossible to expect that our vacation time will keep us replenished throughout the year. We need to structure relaxation into our daily living. This will require more than a couch and TV. It will require a shift in thinking.